We travel; Luci stays home: Black Forest, Colmar

Morning tour excursions left the ship at 8:30. We were awake around 6AM to get our morning routine done and have breakfast and gather our listening devices, camera, umbrella, bag or back pack. and pick up our ID cards and Tour ID cards (showing which bus or tour guide to go to) and get out the door.

The ship is docked at the German city of Breisach, home to Europe's largest stores of wine are housed in huge warehouses. Today we are going to the Black Forest, a four hour trip there and back. The drive takes us past wine-producing areas of southern Germany and up into the fir forests of the Schwartzwald. We pass into rolling hills and up into small farms. The tour guide remarks that many farms had/have their own chapels for religious uses since traveling to town was not possible in the old days. These chapels could be seen along the roadside. We stopped to stretch our legs on a chilly, windy hillside.

Our destination is the historic Hofgut Sturnen hotel on the edge of the forest. Woodworking and glassblowing workshops with retail shops are here as well and a cuckoo house powered by a waterwheel.

We could choose a hike into the forest along a small stream to a waterfall or demonstrations of cuckoo clock-making, glassblowing or Black Forest cake-making.

We chose the hike so we followed this pretty lady in traditional dress. The bridge in the picture below is a railway bridge that the German army fiercely defended and finally demolished to slow Allied forces at the end of WWII. The French were given this area when Germany was partitioned after the war. They rebuilt the trestle. We saw trains speeding across it while we were there.

It was quite a hike to the top of the waterfall. The path continued on past the waterfall if anyone wanted a longer hike. The next picture is of a piece of woodcutting machinery used in the early days.

Down at the hotel, we visited the shops and looked at the clocks and glass ornaments and waited for the big cuckoo clock to chime.

When the clock chimed, the cuckoo chirped the hour and dancing figurines waltzed onto the balcony. Very fun and a crowd pleaser. Back to the bus and back to the ship where everyone had to don life vests (stashed under each bed) and proceed to evacuation stations as a safety drill. Lunch was next and a quick stateroom stop before the afternoon tour to the medieval village of Colmar in the French region of Alsace. Ninth century streets, 13th century Gothic churches and 17th century half-timbered houses and French and German Renaissance architecture awaited us.

On the road to Colmar is a roundabout with a replica of the Statue of Liberty. The artist, Frederic Bartholdi, was directed to make this replica before the French would agree to him building the big statue, a gift from the French people, that stands in the NYC harbor welcoming immigrants and travelers to the USA.

It was a walk to the plaza of Lindens where our tour started. This colorful city was captured by the Germans but there was resistance in the form of shop signs depicting pigs (the nazis), and signs rendered in the colors of France (red, white and blue).

Some people were part of a stronger resistance and were discovered and executed. A memorial to these heroes stands in the square.

Another tour from the ship visited the Colmar Pocket and Memorial Museum where French and American troops pushed back German forces in the winter of 1944-45.

Half timbered houses in the old city.

The house of Bartholdi in a Cul d sac. His statue commemorating Schwendi who fought in the Crusades and brought back grape vines for a new variety unknown to this area previously. This area produces Riesling and Gewurztraminer wines. This is the Schwendi fountain.

This is a stork nest with two storks (maybe more) in the nest. Stork nests are very large and are added to yearly by the pair when they return from migration. The nests can become too large and have to be destroyed. Round cages are built atop houses for the stork nests.

This brown house is the smallest in the city. Houses were taxed by their footprint on the ground. Since this house is built above the street, it paid no taxes. But probably paid rent to the house on which it was built.

This is a little stream wandering through this part of the city. Very picturesque.

Shop owners decorate the outside of their shops and make enticing displays in the windows.

More hanging shop signs. They were so quaint and added so much to this neat town. After the tour, we had time to have a glass of Riesling in the square.
We struck up a conversation with a family sitting next to us in the outdoor resturant. They were from Denmark and spoke good English. We asked what they were eating. It looked like pizza but was called a tarte flambé. The father of the family asked about sight-seeing in the US. It was difficult to explain how huge our country is for touring.
Before dinner that evening, the Captain and Hotel Manager welcomed us aboard with a champagne toast. After dinner a violin and harp duo played (and sang) French and German musical selections for us. These women were very good and finished just in time to get off the ship before it cast off for Strasbourg France.

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